one of America’s “Emerging Downtowns.” Plans for the downtown Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center— which is adjacent to thriving restaurant and entertainment districts—include improvements intended to draw people to an existing green space.
said, are surrounded by inhospitable, manmade deserts. “[Con- vention-center] designers often will pour resources into build- ing grand plazas,” he said, “which may serve a metaphorical function and look great from 1,000 feet in the air, but do very lit- tle to nudge people towards moments of intimacy.” Montgomery recently spoke at a conference held at a con-
vention center where the designers included a span of green space dominated by massive, visually striking concrete structures. Unfortunately, Montgomery said, the designers placed a higher priority on making a symbolic statement than on creating a space that was congenial to human activities. “It was remarkable,” Montgomery said. “This plaza which had been created at great
5. Albuquerque Convention Center
Walk Score: 92 Albuquerquewas ranked 28th
onWalk Score’s 2011 list of
America’s 50 largest cities.The Albuquerque Convention Center— about to embark on a $20-million renovation—lies in the heart of the city’s downtown, which itself is in the midst of a 10-year, multimillion- dollar revitalization.The center is within walking distance of more than 900 hotel rooms and vibrant CentralAvenue (historic Route 66).
expense functioned like a dispersal machine. Nobody stopped there, nobody gathered there, nobody was compelled by the architectural statement.” Convivial spaces, on the other hand, affect our biology. “The
best way to activate a space is to allow things to happen there,” Montgomery said. And “any time you allow human activity in a space—permit an interaction, or nudge people closer together —you are allowing for the release of hormones that reward us for engaging with each other. Smiling at a stranger releases a neu- rotransmitter known as oxytocin, the same hormone that is released when women give birth or when we fall in love. “Oxytocin feels great,” he said. “It makes you more likely